Travel Reykjavík´s guide to Iceland Airwaves 2017

Iceland Airwaves festival is the biggest event in Iceland with local bands alongside foreign bands perform at various locations in the heart of Reykjavik.
October 18, 2017
Travel Reykjavík

Iceland Airwaves festival has become the most popular festival in Iceland in recent years. Packed with local talents and well-known acts from abroad as well. The festival started in 1999 when Icelandic sweethearts Sigur Rós performed alongside Gus Gus in an air plane hangar at Reykjavík Airport. Since then the festival has turned into one of the premier showcases for new music in the world. Many journalists and people from the music industry show up and experience the 5-day party Iceland Airwaves has to offer.

The schedule spawns from Wednesday November 1st to Sunday November 5th and stars approximately 220 acts performing at various venues within the Reykjavík City Center. Some interesting changes this year make the festival even more exciting. If you are keen on travelling up north you can catch the festival in Akureyri on November 2nd (Thursday) and November 3rd (Friday). 

One of the main attractions at the festival is the vast Off-venue schedule. It takes place at various pubs, museums and restaurants around the center of Reykjavík. The Off-venue schedule is quite extravagant with countless of gigs taking place prior main Airwaves schedule. We highly recommend experience the Off-venue gigs as they are highly amusing. What’s better than enjoying happy hours at the bars with a local band rocking out in the background or foreground, depends how much you are into it. 

The line-up this year is quite something with many up and coming Icelandic acts, along with well-known acts from abroad. Lately the Icelandic Rap scene has really become huge and has gone mainstream to say the least. Kids from 8-year-old to grownups fill their Spotify playlists with Sturla Atlas, Emmsjé Gauti, Úlfur Úlfur and GKR to name a few. What we can´t really ignore is that the Iceland Airwaves line up has always been focused on alternative music rather than the mainstream. So, if you are into more alternative music you are in for a treat. 

Let´s break down the schedule a little bit: 

Wednesday 1. November

Looking at the schedule on the first day of the festival there are a quite few interesting bands to see. So, depending on the mood you are in, you can sort of pinpoint what genre of music you want to enjoy this night. For example, at Hard Rock Café you have a good mix of alternative rock taking place. There with a mix of heaviness from We Made God and weirdness from Skelkur í Bringu or some more laid-back melodies from Oyama. We recommend seeing:
20.20 Skelkur í Bringu @Hard Rock Café
21.40 Sycamore Tree @Gamla Bíó
22.20 We Made God @Hard Rock Café
23.20 Warmland @Iðnó
00.20 Moses Hightower @Gamla Bíó (to cool you down)

Sycamore Tree

Thursday 2. November  

This seems a bit trickier.  More venues and more bands. If you´re in a rap mode this evening you should head straight to Reykjavík Art Museum.  If you´re in a singer-songwriter mode, then Hverfisbarinn should fulfil your expectations. Möller records have a showcase in Hressingarskálinn if you like some blissed-out electronica. However, our recommendation for this night would be something like this:

19.45 GKR @Reykjavík Art Museum
20:45 Emilína Torrini @Þjóðleikhúsið
21:50 Gangly @Iðnó
22:10 Gyða Valtýsdóttir @Fríkirkjan
23.20 Dj Flugvél And Geimskip @Húrra
00.00 Vök @Iðnó


Friday 3. November 

Wow that’s quite a line-up for this evening. You like punk Rock? Head to Gaukurinn and just stay there. If, however you want more electronica into your head don´t miss the schedule at Hverfisbarinn. Reykjavík Art Museum offers a line up with the title „the line of best fit “, which should be a good mix of every genre. However here is how we would stroll through the night:

20.00 Skrattar @Gaukurinn
21.00 Amiina @Bíó Paradís
21.40 Pink street boys @Gaukurinn
22.30 Pinegrove @Gamla Bíó
00.00 Arab Strap @Gamla Bíó
01.00 FM Belfast @Reykjavík Art Museum
01.30 Sykur @Húrra... and just stay there if you want to continue your boozed out night...

Arab Strap from Scotland

Saturday 4. November 

On you go and deal with your recovery from Friday by going to brunch at some well-chosen bistro bar. We recommend the food market at Hlemmur. There you find a nice Mexican food stand, as well as homemade ice cream to get that brain freeze to cool down your brain a bit. Or even a better choice would be to head to Kex Hostel and get something to eat and enjoy the off-venue schedule there. Quite nice hang out place. The last proper day at the festival is the Saturday line-up. So, we advise you to see the following acts:
20.00 Fleet foxes @Harpa Eldborg (you need additional tickets for this one)
20.00 Sóley @Fríkirkjan
20.50 Kælan Mikla @Gaukurinn
21.50 Mammút @Gamla Bíó
22.30 Ham @Reykjavík Art Museum
00.20 Glerakur @Hard Rock Café

Or 00.30 Gus Gus @Reykjavík Art Museum (if you´d rather want to dance)

The Icelandic, Mammút

Sunday 5. November 

The last day of the festival is always quite small with only few acts performing. Usually the biggest or the most well-known acts play on the Sunday. This year it´s Mumford And Sons, and I can´t say that I’m excited. So, I would probably just go to the Blue Lagoon or just wander around Reykjavík. Or even just arrange my Airport transfer and get ready to leave the island of fire and ice.

Mumford And Sons

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